Celebrate the Season of Giving
Five ways to help those in need during the holidays
Giving is the true spirit of the holiday season. In addition to gift-giving in the traditional material sense, there are other meaningful ways to make a difference in your community and give back to those in need. Here are some ideas you can put into action.
Donate to a food pantry
Churches and food pantries are always in need of donations, and the holidays are a great time to help provide a meal for someone who may not otherwise be able to eat. Canned goods and other non-perishable items like cereal, oatmeal, rice, peanut butter, and spices are often needed. Some pantries can also use non-edible items, such as soap, shampoo and other toiletries.
You can donate items at one of North Carolina’s major food banks that serve as distribution hubs, or at community relief agencies such as food pantries and shelters that they partner with in their region. Visit ncfoodbanks.org for more information and a locator map.
Attend a charity event
Concerts, theatrical performances and home tours are often held during the holiday season, with the proceeds going to benefit a local charity or service organization. Many community service clubs also offer benefit dinners or bake sales that can provide a positive impact.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
For the homeless, extended exposure to cold weather can be dangerous. Soup kitchens and shelters are often more crowded during this time of year. While aid facilities often see an influx of volunteers during the holidays, most are still grateful for the extra hands to help serve a warm meal or assist with other tasks around the facilities. You can find local kitchens, pantries, churches and shelters that serve food by selecting the food bank nearest you at ncfoodbanks.org as well as foodpantries.org/st/north_carolina.
Host a coat drive
Providing clothing, specifically coats, for the less fortunate during the colder months is another way to assist. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a warm winter coat is considered a “budget extra” for nearly 15 percent of Americans living in poverty. One Warm Coat, a national nonprofit, has facilitated more than 27,000 coat drives nationwide. It provides free resources for you to hold a coat drive in your community, and partners with registered agencies and retail partners across NC that will distribute the coats. Learn more at onewarmcoat.org/youcanhelp.
Adopt a family
There are many organizations that can help you sponsor a family in your area to help provide gifts and necessities for the holidays. Most groups can provide you with a list of items each family member needs and wants, to make your shopping easier. Check with nonprofits such as the Salvation Army as well as churches in your area to see if they offer such a program.
North Carolinians give back